Jumping the (Air) Gun

(Air) Gun Control A lot’s changed on Pit Road this year. In addition to cutting the over-the-wall crew to five people, NASCAR decided (by majority vote of the Team Owners’ Council) that they would provide air guns to all teams. Not everyone was in favor of this. Rob Kauffman tweeted that Chip…

NASCAR’s Laser Inspection Process: Confidence and Accuracy

There Will Be Rules… The last time I was at the R&D Center, I was given a copy of the official NASCAR rule book for 1948. It was about a quarter of a page. Now there’s a thick booklet filled with detailed specifications, part numbers, measurements, tolerances and AutoCad drawings. Weekly…

NASCAR and Electric Cars: A Response to Bill Nye

Bill Nye is getting a lot of press lately by suggesting NASCAR ought to be racing electric cars.  I was rather disappointed with the reaction from NASCAR fans, as many dismissed the suggestion offhand, or offered ad hominem attacks on Nye. Firing off Twitter insults only reinforces the stereotype of NASCAR fans as…

A Band Aid for NASCAR’s Tire Bleeding Problem

There are three things you don’t mess with in NASCAR: engines, fuel and tires.

Tuesday, NASCAR handed down a P5 penalty – the penultimate penalty on the books – to Ryan Newman’s 31 team. Crew Chief Luke Lambert was suspended six races, fined $125,000, and Newman and his owner Richard Childress were each docked 75 points. The tire specialist and team engineer were suspended for six races as well. RCR is appealing the penalty, but I wager they’ve got an uphill battle.

NASCAR’s made its stand loud and clear in the last few weeks. Tire bleeding will not be allowed. If you persist in trying, they’ll come down hard on you.

Age and the NASCAR Driver: Can They Still Compete?

Jeff Gordon’s decision to step away from full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup racing has resulted in a lot of discussion about aging drivers. We’re on the verge of a turnover as a number of drivers (Johnson, Stewart, Junior, Harvick among others) reach their forties. And what an appropriate topic for this week…

How Fast Would NASCAR Cars Go at Daytona without Restrictor Plates?

Doug Yates was guest on Dave Moody’s SiriusXM Speedway last week. He brought up a conversion you hear a lot in the week before Daytona and Talladega. Every 25 horsepower in the engine translates to about a 1 second decrease in lap times. Dave did the math: Removing the plates would increase the engine by 450 horsepower. Four hundred and fifty more horsepower equates to 18 seconds off the lap time, assuming all other things equal. That last part was a very important qualification. It will come back to haunt us in a moment.

R.I.P. Speedy Bill Smith

We lost a lot of racing people this week. Although I never knew him personally, Speedy Bill Smith was a big part of my racing education.  Bill passed away on May 30th at the age of 84. When I first got interested in motorsports, I was living in Lincoln, Nebraska….

The Flap over Roof Flaps

Why Roof Flaps? Roof flaps (the invention of which I detail in my book The Physics of NASCAR) help keep cars on the ground.  This is necessary because of Bernoulli’s law, which says basically that: Faster-moving air exerts less pressure. Slower-moving air exerts more pressure. A wing develops lift because the…

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